Bournemouth University

School of Conservation Sciences

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Skull Don't miss this exciting CS event

CAAH seminar Wednesday 12th November, 12 noon, CG23

Dr. Karina Croucher, University of Manchester

Death, Identity and the Body: A discussion of Mortuary remains from the Neolithic of Southwest Asia

Mortuary remains in the Neolithic Near East are often characterised by their complex and fragmentary nature, from Skull Cults to Death Pits, multiple burials, and human/animal interments. This paper considers some in-depth case-studies from the Neolithic of Southwest Asia, discussing the contexts of fragmented bodies, and the roles they might have played in understandings of the body and identity. For example, the remains of over 37 people, disarticulated and further fragmented, accompanied by animal remains and deliberately fragmented material culture, were recovered from Domuztepe’s Death Pit. From Çayönü Tepesi’s Skull Building were found the secondary burials of over 450 persons, again with animal remains. At Yarim Tepe we see the burial of parts of the body with parts of animals. Clearly the individual, whole, integral body was not intended to be preserved in mortuary contexts at these sites; rather, themes of fragmentation, manipulation, circulation, and deposition, of people, animals and material culture, offer insights into understandings and perceptions of the body, personhood and identity, and relationships between the living and the dead.